Magazine Article | February 1, 2003

Backup Capabilities Increase, While Costs Decrease

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

A NAS (network attached storage) solution allows anytime backups, while reducing labor costs by 20% and cutting disk drive costs by 50%.

Integrated Solutions, February 2003

Inefficient disk usage, costly overtime, a small backup window, and limited disaster recovery options - hopefully these problems are not part of your business. For AccessData (Pittsburgh), unfortunately, these issues threatened to damage finances, disrupt sales, and impair business altogether. With 125 employees and five facilities, AccessData is a managed service provider that delivers software applications and services to the financial services industry. Because AccessData offers products ranging from an analytical data warehouse to an automated call center monitoring and reporting tool, it accumulates a lot of data - data which must be stored and protected.

AccessData used only direct attached storage, with Dell and Sun Microsystems RAID (redundant array of independent disks), until October 2002. With these systems, a mere 60% of the disk space available was utilized and overtime labor costs were out of control as a result of a small backup window. "I had to wait until the end of the day to secure the data," explained Joe Mayer, director of technology center at AccessData. "There was a consistent inability to get important data backed up in the small overnight time frame."

Effortless Backup
AccessData chose to install the Spinnaker Networks SpinServer 3300, a NAS (network attached storage) server that gave AccessData the scalability and flexibility it required. AccessData installed SpinServer 3300 after testing its compatibility with Oracle. Mayer was concerned Oracle would not run over a NAS architecture. "Oracle was tested and retested to make sure if there was a failure, the files could be recovered," Mayer said. "I went as far as pulling out plugs in order to disable the machine. Our concerns were quickly erased when we reviewed the performance numbers."

Both the Sun and Dell systems were integrated with the new SpinServer 3300, so data could be moved between the older platforms and the Spinnaker product. With this new system, backup can be done in an effortless manner. "With the SpinServer, once initial backup is performed, the SpinMirror function mirrors data across the room or across the country to another Spinnaker server. Now backup can be performed 24/7 on- or off-site with the functionality of a browser-based interface," Mayer explained. Also, real-time backups are now an option for AccessData with another feature of the SpinServer 3300. Mayer can back up any time of the day simply by using the snapshot feature. "With this application I can say a workday starts at noon and ends at noon everyday, and that's when backup is completed."

Labor, Support, Hardware Costs Curtailed
Labor has been reduced by 20%, cutting overtime. And the staff is trained on the system, eliminating the need for costly experts. Additionally, AccessData is saving $40,000 a year in tech support costs. The company has the ability to manage disk proficiently because disk space is shared. Since installing the SpinServer, AccessData disk drive purchases are down 50%.

AccessData now has plans to install the SpinHA from Spinnaker. This high availability system will be used for financial applications and will be the focal point of the company's disaster recovery implementation. Using SpinHA, all data write operations on a primary server will be simultaneously pushed to a partner server and held in memory. In the event of a failure, the partner server provides data access to failed systems users.